Friday, July 17, 2009

"Punk In London" DVD (director: Wolfgang Buld)

This is the first in a series of three films that German director Buld completed in the late 1970's, as he observed the infancy and explosion of the punk and post-punk scenes in England. "London" is a collection of candid interviews and footage -- all shot in the snotty late-70's heyday. Buld's narration is sparse, as he lets the bands and fans do the talking. Sure, a lot of the latter-day punk has been fueled by a juvenile need to rebel and shock, but most of these early acts were reacting to the Thatcher-led era of working-class discontent and frustration. Indeed, the social climate of unrest and oppression was paramount to the aggression and rage that many of these bands felt. And if the rudimentary riffing and shouting of punk wasn't always unique, it was a jolt of energy and adrenaline to a stagnant and bloated rock corpse. And besides interviewing punks themselves, Buld had the foresight to also take a different angle -- interviewing less-tolerant subcultures like the 'Teddy Boys', who manage to sound like true street thugs. This is entertaining and provides a dissenting thought on the whole romanticized punk movement. The foundation of this film is, of course, the music, and with period live footage from such acts as The Clash, The Jam, Adverts, Boomtown Rats, Chelsea, Siouxsie & The Banshees, and many more, "Punk In London" is a treasure-trove for fans. Seemingly the focus of much on-screen time, The Clash are head-and-shoulders the highlight here, with incendiary live clips and interviews with Strummer, Simenon, and Mick Jones. There's even extended live footage that shows the Clash to command the stage with reckless rock abandon. They were really one of the greats. A fine document of the scene in it's primal infancy. (MVD Visual)

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